Pam balanced nine-month-old Timmy on her hip as we chatted. Three-year-old Tommy peered at me from behind the stroller. This particular homeschool convention had offered many opportunities to encourage young parents. Looking at me earnestly, Pam voiced the same question I had heard from so many moms over the summer: “What should I be doing now during the preschool years to prepare my children for homeschooling?”
Usually when parents ask that question, they’re expecting advice about academics. Flashcards, instructional videos, and reading lessons seem paramount in their minds. So the Charlotte Mason priorities that we encourage them to adopt often sound a bit different. (Well, probably more than “a bit.”)
Charlotte Mason outlined two chief duties for parents.
“To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent’s chief duty” (Vol. 2, p. 228).
Molding and shaping your child’s character with good habits is your first priority. If your day is too crowded to allow you time to stop and deal with bad habits, it’s too crowded.
“To nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas we believe to be the parent’s next duty” (Vol. 2, p. 228).
Feed your child’s mind with good and right ideas every day. Remember that a child soaks up a lot from his surroundings. So make sure everything you give him is wholesome and nourishing, including the atmosphere in which he grows. Feed his mind on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, virtuous, praise-worthy.
If you concentrate on just those two priorities during the preschool years, you will be laying a wonderful foundation for homeschooling. Simply instill good habits and feed your child’s mind with loving, right, and noble ideas.
During the next few weeks we will talk about practical and doable ways that a mother of a preschooler can carry out these chief duties. You won’t find hard expectations or bad-mommy syndrome in these posts. You will, instead, be encouraged to work with the way God made little ones during this season of life. We hope you’ll enjoy the early years!